March 31, 2006


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It's been quite a month.  

Cameron has been springing forward.  He is now officially 100% potty trained!  He's staying dry and taking himself to the potty without prompting or assistance.  He even stayed dry for the entire 17+ hour drive to and from Ohio this month!  The only problem we are having now is that he is insisting that he must use the "men's room" when we are out in public.  While that's not such a bad thing (actually great awareness and appropriateness on his part), it has been a bit of a complication when Mommy is the only adult out with him.

We spent two weeks traveling to and from Ohio this month to receive Cameron's Service Dog from 4 Paws For Ability.  Cameron received a beautiful 11 month old blonde male Golden Retriever.  We have decided to name him "Apollo."  In Greek Mythology Apollo was the god of LIGHT and HEALING.  While we are still adjusting to life with Apollo, the things he has to offer Cameron are already beginning to show.  Cam and Apollo are fast becoming friends.  Through Apollo, Cameron is learning the value of friendship, how to socialize with others and how to care for another living creature.  Apollo is able to offer us a sense of security when we are out with Cameron.  We tether Cameron to Apollo when out in public so that Cam can not run off.  If by chance Cam does run off and we lose him again, Apollo is a trained "search and rescue" dog and would be able to locate him for us.  Some of the other things that Apollo will be able to do for Cam is behavior/stimming interruption, reduce Cam's anxiety and thus reduce frequency and intensity of meltdowns, and perhaps alert us prior to a medical emergency (33% of children with ASD develop a seizure disorder prior to adolescents; Apollo can be trained to warn us prior to a seizure if Cam develops this disorder).

We have been pleasantly surprised by Cameron's response to the tethering.  He actually is much happier with the tethering than with our other options (holding his hand, strapping him in a stroller or cart, and continually bugging him to stay with us).  Cam's belt is attached to a leash on Apollo's harness.  Cam assumes (and we encourage him to believe) that he is taking Apollo out for a stroll and has a leash just like Mommy or Daddy is also holding on the other end of Apollo.  In fact he likes it so much and feels like such a big boy that his little sister has also taken to insisting that she have a leash (or tether) of her own while out.  Apollo keeps everybody in line so that all of the children stay with the group.  Nobody gets to lag behind or run off in their own direction.  Cameron appears much more relaxed with the tether than he was with our alternatives.  He is also quite pleased to have both of his hands free to play his video games or explore the world as we walk down the street or through the mall.  We couldn't be happier with how this is going.

Apollo's search and rescue abilities are nothing short of amazing as well.  This added bit of training that Apollo received gives our family peace of mind we couldn't get anywhere else.  We know that Apollo strives to watch over Cameron when he's with him and if somehow we ever lost him again we know that Apollo is trained to track and find him.  We will continue to practice with him (mostly so that we learn to be good handlers; as he is really already trained) on a weekly basis.   

The whole family caught a cold during the last few days of our trip to retrieve Apollo.  Prior to beginning bio-med treatment, days with Cameron sick were completely unmanageable.  Every symptom of ASD that he had would be intensified 1000 times.  However, this illness has been a very different experience.  He has remained verbal, imaginative and social.  Typically illness would equal immobilizing OCD for Cam, but this has not been the case this time.  This is such a fabulous sign for us that he is indeed steadily recovering and that the treatment he is receiving will have lasting effects for him. 

And for those wanting to know how Haley (our 10 year old cat) is adjusting...she's still cautious.  Apollo was trained to leave cats alone so he hasn't really paid much attention to her.  However, she tip toes around him and occasionally meows to him from an adjacent room.  She is particularly concerned each night when we put Cameron and Apollo to bed at night (Apollo sleeps with Cam to give him a sense of security and deep pressure at night).  Haley has always been extremely fond and protective of Cameron (and only Cameron...actually, she's pretty grumpy otherwise).  So she comes up to Cam's room every night at bedtime to inspect that Apollo is taking good care of Cameron and to say goodnight.  This is the best we could have hoped for...but who knows maybe one day Haley and Apollo will become good buddies too! 



Disclaimer:  The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not to be meant as medical advice.  Please consult a trusted and knowledgeable physician when making medical and treatment decisions.

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